But it is not in our sinful state that God is pleased but in the sinless sacrifice of his Son, whom he has given as the greatest gift of all. As John wrote to the church, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In Christ, our peace offering, we have been given the gift of peace with God forever. There is no greater Christmas gift than that.
Sometimes life can feel unbearable. Whether it be the anxiety of a situation, conflict with people, or restless worry over tomorrow, we can easily grow frustrated even cynical, wondering where has the joy of living gone? We have all likely felt this way before, perhaps even today. But sometimes it can be difficult to express what we are feeling, to others, to ourselves, and even to God. But God has neither created nor redeemed us to wallow in the weight of our worries but desires that we cry out to him, giving us not only the privilege but the poetry too.
Consider our passage today in Leviticus. He who is holy calls his people to be holy, like Father like child, a set apartness of and for God. What follows is a less succinct almost lyrical expansion of the Ten Commandments, an elaboration on what it means to love God and examples of what it looks like to love our neighbor. For example, it may surprise us to find that despite the thousands of years that separate us from ancient Israel, how Israel is commanded to love their neighbor is remarkably relevant for us today. So, if I too may summarize, loving our neighbor means loving generously, honestly, equitably, justly, and reasonably.
The point in this: There are some things fulfilled in Scripture to which we look, believe, and find hope. There are other things promised but not yet fulfilled to which we also look, believe, and find hope.
The term joy is often misunderstood by modern Christians because of the way it is defined and used in our culture today. Joy is often considered a synonym for happiness, which in modern use is understood as more sentimental than substantive.
It is as practical as the commandments in Leviticus and as beautiful as the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. And when we as the church love one another as Christ loved us, that love shines through to the world, awaiting a fitting response. May the world watch and see and say: “Certainly these are the followers of Christ, they have been with Jesus.”
When Christians realize that their citizenship is in heaven, they begin acting as responsible citizens of earth. They invest wisely in relationships because they know they’re eternal.